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July 31, 2008

Discovery orders Da Vinci reality series

Leonardo Da Vinci: artist, inventor, musician and, starting next year, a reality star.

Discovery Channel is teaming with producer Craig Piligian to try to bring to life the engineering designs of the original Renaissance Man.

During the 16th century, the Italian artist conceptualized many inventions that are now considered hundreds of years ahead of their time. His journals include blueprints of a helicopter, a tank, a calculator and the harvesting of solar power.

Most of the designs have never actually been constructed.

"If Da Vinci had at his disposal the tools we have today, would the inventions work?" asked Piligian (Discovery's "Dirty Jobs," Sci Fi's "Ghost Hunters"). "How much of a genius was he really?"

Discovery Channel has ordered six one-hour episodes of the series, tentatively titled "Doing Da Vinci." Each episode will attempt to build two of the master artist's designs.

"It's ingenuity under pressure and reaching for the impossible," said Jeff Hasler, senior vp production and development at Discovery. "It's right in keeping with our brand."

The "Da Vinci" design team will include a rocket scientist, a Hollywood special effects expert and an everyday in-the-garage inventor. Although the team will use modern tools, the building materials will all be re-creations of what was available during Da Vinci's era. The series is expected to debut sometime next year.

The network also has ordered 12 episodes of a new half-hour series from Piligian titled "Destroyed in Seconds," which will debut next month.

"Seconds" features video clips of disasters where man-made constructions were destroyed in, well, seconds. Subject matter will range from the intentional implosion of Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas to a terror attack on an Israeli marketplace. The show then deconstructs the disaster to show physically how the destruction happened. Fox Sports' Ron Pitts will host.

"It's not a show that's going to focus on bad things, it's a show that explains how these things happen," Hasler said.


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